The most common centipede is called the house centipede. When full grown, it is more than an inch long. It has a flattened body with 15 pairs of long, jointed legs attached along the sides, one pair of legs per body segment. The legs are very evident when the centipede is standing or running. The body is brownish or grayish-yellow sometimes marked with three dark longitudinal stripes visible from above. The legs are clearly striped. A pair of long slender feelers extends forward from the head.
Centipedes move quickly and are usually noticed running across a wall, ceiling, or open room toward a dark area where it is difficult to find them. It is also common for centipedes to stop abruptly and remain motionless before they suddenly begin running again. Centipedes are often associated with damp conditions.
Centipedes are predators, feeding on small, living creatures such as insects, spiders, and other arthropods, like sowbugs, and millipedes. They use poison-filled jaws to help subdue their prey. Because of their predaceous habits, centipedes are beneficial arthropods.
Bites by a centipede are rare because it is very shy. Its jaws are also small and cannot break through human skin easily unless the centipede is pressed or squeezed. In the rare event of a bite, some swelling may be expected, but the pain should not be severe.